Vernacular architecture of Assam

by Nabajit Deka | 2018 | 96,996 words

This study deals with the architecture of Assam (Northeastern India, Easter Himalayas), with special reference to Brahmaputra Valley. The Vernacular Architecture of Assam enjoys a variety of richness in tradition, made possible by the numerous communities and traditional cultures....

Pajaghar Typology (d): Door, Window and Ventilators

The traditional houses usually have one bamboo door, in the front-middle of the house. It is the main entrance to the house while generally other compartments do not possess any door. However, sometime a second door is attached in the rear wall of the house to facilitate to go to the backyard. The door are generally made of bamboo, constructed, and hinged in a peculiar technique.

The bamboo door, fitted in the opening left between two posts, is primarily prepared from a specially woven mat using doi or bamboo splint of a mature bamboo in a scheme known as koita moor. Then, two sparsely woven members are added to this mat from either side. All these three layers of bamboo matting are tied together along the border with the help of pairs of kamis. Then additional kamis are placed and fastened in horizontal, vertical, and diagonal directions, over this assembly of mats. After securing it with kamis, bamboo-cappings (khaw) are attached in all sides and lengthwise khaw protrudes the edge of the door on three sides. It is tied to a post, embedded just behind the wall near the door opening. Usually, a bamboo pipe is embedded on ground at this point, onto which one protruding khaw is inserted and the upper part is tied loosely with rope loop. Within the bamboo pipe, the door revolves or swings for opening.

The traditional doors also have traditional technique of locking. For this, two bamboo posts of half the height of the door are embedded behind the door attaching / bearing-posts. Usually, there cut a step in the upper part of these posts and embed near the door bearing-posts s in such a way that there creates a gap in between the bamboos. And to lock the door, a piece of bamboo is inserted horizontally after closing the door. In some instances, the bamboo piece is tied loosely to the middle of the door, which remains hanging ordinarily and which is inserted in the gap of the bamboo by twisting the rope.

In the door opening, a bamboo is placed on the ground as doorsill which is called duargaria. Sometimes, a wall or fence of knee-height is constructed over the doorsill. This wall is called deona or dena-bera that remains to the front of the door. This wall restricts the easy entry of insects, snake, frog, or other such animals into the house.

The traditional thatch houses scarcely have windows. Mostly, in place of window, thinly woven, narrow, un-plastered areas in the walls are left in some places to pass light and air. If the house possesses windows, they are usually very small. Usually, one or two such openings in the wall, bounded by khaw, are left during the construction of the wall. And later on, a bamboo mat of size and tied with kamis are fitted there from the outside in two different techniques. In first variety i.e. the sling one, is tied to the wall and hangs with the loose rope or wire loop. This variety is opened by pushing it upward from inside, and a bamboo prop is applied to keep it open. In the other i.e. the sliding variety, the window hangs on loops on a horizontal bamboo attached outside of the wall. The window is opened by sliding through this bamboo. For locking of the windows, similar mechanism as applied in the door is used.

Though windows are scanty in the traditional houses, there is well-managed system for the proper ventilation in every house. Ideally, the walls of the houses never extended up to the roof;rather it ends few feet before leaving a gap all-round the house. These open areas are covered with a bamboo lattice fence called silinga or silingi. Similarly, the triangular gable area, between beam and the roofs are covered with similar member, known as dhapalika.

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